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EOS 80D Shooting Techniques: Nightscapes

The appeal of nightscape photography lies in being able to express a world of light and colours that cannot be seen or felt during the day. With improved performance for nightscape photography, such as an improved AF accuracy in dark places, as well as an additional Bulb timer, the EOS 80D boasts an extreme ease-of-use that makes it ideal for shooting nightscapes. In this article, I will introduce a photography technique that makes full use of these functions. (Reported by Yurika Kadoi)



Use the bulb timer to create long and beautiful light traces

Use long exposure photography (also known as “bulb photography”) to capture the long light traces of a ship advancing slowly. Normally, this involves using the remote switch to press the shutter button while counting the exposure time before finally releasing the shutter. However, if you use the bulb timer feature in the EOS 80D, there is no need to hold down the shutter button or count the exposure time. Camera shake is effectively prevented if you combine the bulb timer with either the 2 sec self-timer or the Touch Shutter in Live View, so there’s no need to use a remote switch. On this occasion, I chose to shoot in Live View mode as this made it easier to match the timing as well as to terminate the shooting midway. Try depicting the light traces the way you want by lightly tapping the LCD monitor at the right moment while observing the ship’s movement.

EOS 80D/ EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM/ FL: 24mm (38mm equivalent)/ Bulb timer (f/16, 60 sec)/ ISO 100/ WB: Daylight
Facing the glittering city scape, I took this shot with a continuous flow of light in mind. As the water surface was dark before the light trails were captured, I therefore focused on the bright buildings in the background. It’s also a good idea to use the Touch Shutter in Live View when shooting.


Operating procedure of the Bulb timer

1. Turn the mode dial to [B (Bulb)]. The Bulb timer can only be set in this mode.


2. Select [Bulb timer] from the shooting menu. After selecting [Enable], press the [INFO] button. The default setting is [Disable].


3. Determine the exposure time on this screen. You can set an exposure time of anything from 1 sec to 99 hours 59 minutes 59 sec, so do enter an exposure time that is required for the scene.


For more ideas and techniques on shooting light trails, check out this article on shooting vehicle light trails as well as this one which gives ideas on light trails for different situations.



Use Multi Shot Noise Reduction to capture noiseless hand-held shots of nightscapes

A tripod is essential for taking high-quality pictures without camera shake when shooting in a dark environment. However, there are also probably times when you are unable to use a tripod or when a tripod is unavailable. When you have to shoot handheld in low light, besides ensuring as far as possible that your camera is secured and stable, increasing the ISO speed and shutter speed is also a common recommendation. 

The Multi Shot Noise Reduction function, available on the EOS 80D as well as some other models, not only makes this process more convenient but helps reduce noise along the way. When it is enabled, the camera takes 4 continuous shots at one go and then automatically reduces the noise and aligns the positions before recording a single noiseless image. Using this, you can safely raise the ISO speed until you achieve the desired shutter speed that doesn’t lead to camera shake. This gives you the freedom to take hand-held shots of lovely night scenery with little noise. 

However, bear in mind that you should only use this in a pinch when a tripod cannot be used since it has some limitations, such as being unsuitable for taking moving subjects.

EOS 80D/ EF-S10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM/ FL: 10mm (16mm equivalent)/ Multi Shot Noise Reduction (f/5.6, 1/20 sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 6400/ WB: 4,500K
I selected an ultra wide-angle lens as I wanted to get a dynamic picture of the expanse of wires. In order to adjust the colour to my preferred blueness, I specified the white balance using the colour temperature.

Select [Multi Shot Noise Reduction]

Select [Multi Shot Noise Reduction] from the [High ISO speed NR] menu. Take note that this function cannot be set if RAW or RAW+JPEG is selected for the recording format.


Noise level is completely different even at the same speed of ISO 6400

The higher the ISO speed, the more likely it is for noise to occur and cause in a drop in picture quality. However, when you use Multi Shot Noise Reduction, you won’t feel that there is any roughness caused by noise at all even if you magnify the screen. The difference is obvious when you compare it with normal photographs.

Multi Shot Noise Reduction


Normal picture



Superimpose 2 shots using multiple exposure to create a fantastic world

We can also try manipulating the light freely to capture playful expressions using multiple exposure. It’s actually very simple to do so. After selecting [Enable] from the Multiple Exposure shooting menu, you just need to press the shutter button each time you want to take a shot to be superimposed.

Select the desired multiple exposure control method under [Multi-expos ctrl] to set the method of superimposition. I recommend using [Average] initially as it is easier to judge the exposure. The key point here is to shoot in Live View. As you can display one image and take the shot while previewing how superimposition will turn out, it is easy to adjust the size and position. Although I superimposed an image that had been intentionally defocused this time, it is probably also good to superimpose light traces or other shots that are in focus. You can create a myriad of different worlds based on how you superimpose the images.

EOS 80D/ EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM/ FL: 132mm (211mm equivalent)/ Aperture-Priority AE (f/5.6, 2 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 200/ WB: Tungsten
Although the status lights on the runway are not captured in the photo as they appear, by taking soft focus shots at the same position and then combining them while making the lights appear larger, I managed to capture a star-studded view of the soft, glittering lights.


Adjust the amount of overlap in the 2 images

Take a first shot that will serve as the base, and then add the lights in the second shot. If necessary, make fine adjustments to the angle of view as well and search for a position that will superimpose the images beautifully while observing the degree of blurring.

1st shot


2nd shot

(Interest piqued by the bokeh circles in the 2nd shot? Here are some more ideas on how you can use them to create dramatic nightscapes)


EOS 80D Kit II (EF-S18-135mm IS USM)


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Yurika Kadoi

Born in Toyama and graduated from the Faculty of Engineering, Kanazawa University, Kadoi had worked for an electrical equipment manufacturer before becoming a photo studio assistant. She later became a freelance photographer, and is now engaged in a wide range of works from portraits to still photos for movies.


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